I actually like both practices. I'm not qualified to teach Pilates. I am a yoga teacher and a personal trainer. So you might expect me to be biased towards yoga, however I honestly enjoy mat-based Pilates, reformer-based Pilates and various styles of the yoga ‘asana’ practice (the physical practice of yoga).
So what actually differentiates these practices physically?
Reformer Pilates involves using what is known as a ‘bed’ (it looks like a wooden rowing machine with some extra cables on it). This type of movement practice is going to involve pulling motions. When you pull something or row something, you're going to engage your bicep and then you're going to engage your latissimus dorsi back here, your rhomboids, your trapezius. And possibly if there's a hinger motion as well, you will utilise some of your spinal erector extensors, posterior chain. This is something that is often really missing from a yoga practice.
There are certain ways that you can lie on your front and then raise your arms up into flexion. Or you could lie back on the floor and push the backs of your hands into the floor and get this engagement in your back isometrically. But it's not typical in a yoga practice. In fact, it's incredibly rare to see or do something like that really in a yoga class.
So, physically, I believe that Pilates reformer has an advantage.
However regarding whether men should practice, Pilates or yoga, I believe that it really depends on the teacher. If you find a good teacher who talks anatomically, who has a knowledge of the movement practice, making you feel safe and you understand what's going on.
Keep going back and working with that teacher. Explore other teachers, explore mat Pilates, reformer and yoga. Keep informing yourself and you'll be able to make better decisions about who you're going to practice with, where you're going to practice and what you're going to do.
Eventually you will have a better body awareness and know how to activate the correct muscles appropriately yourself.
This article was created for us by our Global Brand Warrior, yoga teacher, personal trainer and Broga Master Trainer Ben Harrison. For more about Ben, click here
We would like to give credit to The Boxgrove for images used in this article